Patients with axial spondyloarthritis (ax-SpA) present with inflammation invading the axial skeleton. Symptoms of ax-SpA interfere with patients' quality of life, and peripheral symptoms are also noted. Human leukocyte antigen B27 was associated with adhesive capsulitis. However, epidemiological studies investigating the associated incidence and risk factors for patients with ax-SpA with adhesive capsulitis are limited. The data of patients with ax-SpA were recorded during the 2004-2008 period and followed to the end of 2010. The control cohort comprised age- and sex-matched non-ax-SpA subjects. A Cox multivariate proportional hazards model was applied to analyze the risk factors for adhesive capsulitis. The hazard ratio (HR) and adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) were estimated between the study and control cohorts after confounders were adjusted for. Effects of sulfasalazine (SSZ), methotrexate (MTX), and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) use on adhesive capsulitis risk were also analyzed. We enrolled 2859 patients with ax-SpA in the study cohort and 11,436 control subjects. A higher incidence of adhesive capsulitis was revealed in the ax-SpA cohort: The crude HR was 1.63 (95% CI, 1.24-2.13; p < 0.001), and the aHR was 1.54 (95% CI, 1.16-2.05; p = 0.002). For patients with ax-SpA using SSZ or HCQ, no difference in aHR was noted compared with control participants, but patients with ax-SpA treated with MTX had higher HR and aHR than controls. Patients with ax-SpA are at risk for adhesive capsulitis. When these patients receive SSZ or HCQ, the risk of adhesive capsulitis can be lowered compared with that of the control cohort.